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Mediocre thriller 'Awake' could put you to sleep

Posted at 12:37 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 12:37:52-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — If you're the sort who uses Netflix as a cinematic lullaby, "Awake" may be just what you're looking for.

The stodgy apocalyptic thriller, released on the streaming service Wednesday, takes an intriguing premise and rocks it gently to sleep over the course of 92 minutes.

Gina Rodriguez plays Jill, an Army vet based at Fort Huachuca who scrambles to protect her family once she learns that all the world's electronics have been shut down and no one can sleep.

Jill's daughter, Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt), is one of the only people on Earth who can still sleep, which makes her the target of some shadowy government figures.

While battling the effects of her own insomnia, Jill uses her survival skills to cling to life amid global chaos.

Nearly the entire weight of the film falls on Rodriguez, a charismatic presence best known as the lead in rom-com "Jane the Virgin," who seems out of her depth here. The shift to a gritty, gloomy survivalist is awkward.

The supporting cast is meager and underused. Jennifer Jason Leigh pops up in a bit part as a psychiatrist who doles out exposition, and Barry Pepper is a world-weary pastor who offers a sliver of hope while grasping with his own declining mental capacity.

Lucius Hoyos plays Noah, Jill's teen son, who doesn't appreciate his mom's heroic efforts.

Rodriguez is at the center of nearly every scene, which ends up being a slow, sullen march of frustration that she wears on her face. It's easy to be sympathetic because the movie makes you feel the same way.

Director Mark Raso ("Kodachrome") is going for a stark vibe along the lines of "The Walking Dead" and "A Quiet Place," but there isn't enough plot to drive the story forward. The movie seems like a pilot for a show that won't get picked up.

"Awake" has a few invigorating moments, but not enough to keep your eyelids from drooping or stop the yawns from coming on.

RATING: 2 stars out of 4.
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